Pablo Virgen Jr., president of new ISRI member Calexico Auto Dismantlers in Calexico, Calif., has worked for the company since he was 16. Citing his love of cars and working alongside his father, the younger Virgen has steered the company for a decade, and he feels it is on the cusp of hitting some of its main goals. In this edition of Faces of ISRI, Virgen discusses his background, what made him want to become an ISRI member, and how he hopes to take Calexico Auto Dismantlers to the next level.

Can you provide some background information about Calexico Auto Dismantlers and what you all do?

My godfather started the business in 1967, and my father started working here in 1973. My godfather passed away in 1994. Five years after he passed, my father bought the business from my godmother.

I started helping out around here in 1994, and I officially started working here in 1997. I originally wanted to be a California Highway Patrol officer, but they stopped accepting new applicants after 9/11. I had already passed my physical and written exams, so I was pretty disappointed.

I could’ve gone through the [CHP hiring] process again, but I had already started helping my dad here, and I didn’t want to leave him alone, so I stuck around. I started helping on the operations side. I brought in computers and began doing computer inventory. I also helped update our tow trucks, which were old and would often break down. My dad retired in 2011, and that’s when I took over. Around the same time, I also earned my bachelor’s degree in business. We’ve expanded the business since I’ve taken over. Auto dismantling is still the main operation, but we also do auto repair and offer towing services. We’re a one-stop shop.

I primarily focus on the dismantling side of the business, as well as on the recycling aspect. We produce our own recyclable materials, so it makes sense to process it ourselves. We’re looking to work with other wrecking yards in the area. We’ve already offered our services to one, and we’re waiting to hear back from another to see if we can strike a deal.

What’s kept you working for the company?

I’ve always been interested in cars. As you can see by my logo, I really love fast cars and racing. When I first started working here, I would build cars, engines and transmissions, and it just kept my attention over the years. I also really loved working with my dad. It’s been a blessing to get to spend so much time with him. I don’t see him as much now that he’s retired, especially in light of the pandemic, but he’s starting to come around now more that he’s vaccinated.

What made you want to focus more on recycling, and how has that changed the company’s operations?

We weren’t getting good prices for our recyclable materials. Ultimately, we’re producing the materials, and they’re worth good money, so I’m not going to let them go for cheap. I found a company in San Diego that’s paying me good prices for the materials we produce. I also started working with another company and they let us borrow they’re crusher, which is really cool because not everyone is that generous with such a big, expensive piece of equipment. We used it to crush some of our cars, and I got really good prices on the materials that came from them. That made me realize I need to get a crusher, so we just purchased one recently from E-Z Crusher that we’re waiting to get here. I think that’ll really help the business grow and expand, and it’ll keep us competitive for a long time.

I also enjoy helping the planet and helping reduce the carbon footprint. I scuba dive regularly and it’s sad to see so much waste in the ocean. By recycling, we’re helping save and preserve the planet for future generations.

How did you hear about ISRI, and what made you want to become an ISRI member?

I heard about ISRI four or five years ago. After doing some research on the association, I really wanted to attend a convention, but I couldn’t for one reason or another. Now that I’m a member, I’ll be attending ISRI2022 in Las Vegas, which I’m really excited about.

What are you looking forward to the most now that you’re an ISRI member?

Networking. I want to get to know more people in the industry and connect with other companies to see how we can grow as a company and expand into other areas we may not be covering right now.

What are some of the company’s short term and long-term plans and goals?

Short-term, we want to get more cash flow. Long-term, we want to grow and expand. I want to get a bigger lot. I also want to start processing more metal and expand our operations. It’ll take a lot of work and effort, but I think we’re on the right path to achieving these goals.

Photo courtesy of Pablo Virgen Jr.